They Broke into the Jewelry Store!
Before I was born, my mother prayed daily that my father would not have to work on Shabbat. She longed to observe it properly and attend synagogue weekly. She prayed for over ten years, with no success. Finally, little by little, their lifestyle changed, and today they are observant. All of their children and grandchildren observe Shabbat, as well.
Rabbi Yoel Gold shares an incredible story illustrating the significance of observing Shabbat.
Isaac and Albert Falchi were brothers who co-owned a jewelry store. One Friday night, their families were enjoying a meal together. While Isaac was making Kiddush, the phone rang. It was AGT, the security company. They left the following message:
“There was a zone three break in at your jewelry store!”
Isaac and Albert looked at each other in disbelief. Zone three was where the safe was kept!
Their entire livelihood was at stake. The safe contained one million dollars’ worth of jewelry. If someone accessed the safe, their business was ruined.
They each asked the other, “What’s our plan?”
Finally, Albert said, “Isaac, Shabbat is Shabbat! There is no plan. If we have to, we will give all the money to Hashem. I’m not going anywhere.”
The phone continued ringing throughout the night. Isaac and Albert were distraught, but reminded themselves, “Shabbat is Shabbat.”
Determined to maintain serenity, they kept to their Shabbat routine. Motzei Shabbat, Isaac and Albert drove down to the store together.
The gate and locks were closed and seemed as though they had not been tampered with. Externally, everything looked fine.
Isaad said, “Albert, I’m going inside, say shir hamaalot.”
Inside, the whole store was in shambles, with chunks of glass and empty showcase boxes strewn everywhere.
Isaac thought, The most important thing is the safe, where the gold and diamonds are kept.
With shaking hands, he tried to open the lock. It took several minutes as he fumbled over the combination. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that nothing was stolen.
The situation was mysterious. The outside gate was untouched, yet the store was clearly robbed. They had no idea how the thieves got in or out.
A nearby policeman noticed them outside. Albert explained the situation, and asked for his help.
The police spent a few minutes inside and then emerged, saying, “If the alarm company called you last night, why are you only here now?”
Isaac explained, “Last night was our Shabbat, a holy day. We wouldn’t come even for a trillion dollars. Shabbat is Shabbat.”
The police officer was surprised and said, “Your G-d, your Shabbat, has saved your life.”
Confused, the two brothers asked, “What do you mean?”
The policeman explained that he had seen this type of break-in before. The thieves climbed onto the roof of the building and entered the store through the vent, which activates the alarm. Then, they wait for the owners to arrive and open the safe. When the safe is open, the robbers jump the owners, kill them, and then steal everything inside. He concluded, “They were probably waiting for you the entire night. If you had come then, they would have ended your lives and emptied the safe.”
The Torah commands us to guard Shabbat. During Kiddush, we recite the words, veshamru bnei yisrael et hashabbat–and the nation of Israel guards Shabbat. Ironically, the Falchi brothers were reciting Kiddush when the initial call from AGT came through.
The Jewish people have kept Shabbat for thousands of years, despite all types of challenges and rampant Anti-Semitism. However, as the Ahad Ha’am once said, “More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.”
While sitting in a nail salon in New York City, author Jenna Maio overheard two secular women conversing next to her. One woman, Sandra, mentioned that she was a descendant of Rav Yisrael Salanter, and then began discussing her plans for Rosh Hashanah.
“I’m not going to family or synagogue. I will be at work, because I didn’t want to take off.”
While reading Jenna Maio’s story I thought, If Rav Yisrael Salanter’s descendents did not observe Shabbat or holidays, what chance did I stand raising observant descendents?
My family breeds similar circumstances; my father is a direct descendant of the Iben Ezra. As a baal teshuva, he is the only sibling of five to observe Shabbat or kashrut.
When we take a stance on Shabbat, it makes an impression both on our children and ourselves. Perhaps in this way we will greatly increase the odds of our offspring guarding Shabbat with fervor.
Do we ever make “harmless” comments, such as, “Oh, wish I could take a picture today! You kids look so cute!” Or, “Oh my goodness, there is a leak in the faucet. I wish I could call the plumber today.” Perhaps when these thoughts arise, we should instead think like Albert and Isaac: “Shabbat is Shabbat! Every Mitzvah is for our benefit!”
The Torah is a pathway, the true instruction manual for life. With it we walk in the ways of Hashem. Our lives are filled with decisions that are forks in the road. The Torah enlightens us with the best way to turn.
Sometimes, following Torah guidelines is easy, and the benefits are clear. On Shabbat, we disconnect from electronics and the family unites. Prayer lowers stress levels and brings serenity to our daily life. The laws of kashrut help ensure health, and family purity practices can lead to a more passionate life with our spouses. However, the right decision is not always made completely clear.
Torah is not a fair-weather friendship; it is meant to be guarded in both good times and hardships. Torah guides us in difficult moments, when we don’t feel following halacha or we think we know a better outcome if we behave differently.
Following the Torah’s commandments leads us toward our best lives. The following story illustrates this idea.
When Michal Oshman, an executive at TikTok UK, was just eighteen years old, she hugged her parents goodbye and boarded a bus for the Israeli army.
Michal’s unit slept in tents, endured intense weather conditions, and had to quickly learn how to use and clean a weapon. They were exhausted emotionally and physically. Michal fell asleep to the sound of her bunkmates crying each night.
Their living quarters had to be spotless by 7:00am. If the commanding officer determined that the room and bathroom were not up to standard, no one was allowed to go home for a visit.
One morning, a toilet was clogged and unable to flush. Each girl refused to help. Inspection was approaching, and panic began to ensue.
Without even thinking, Michal walked into the bathroom and pulled out the offensive blockage.
Everyone clapped and cheered. “Hooray! We can go home!”
She turned to toss the filth into the garbage and was faced with her commanding officer. Michal shrunk in fear, assuming the worst. Instead, the officer smiled and said, “Yup, you’re one of us.”
Michal was promoted to a commanding officer that day.
Michal followed orders, even though it didn’t feel good, and her entire life’s trajectory changed for the better. Following Hashem’s orders is always for our benefit. Sometimes, we merit to see the positive effects of our choices. I view these moments as “love taps” from Hashem.
The Torah is our illuminated walkway, guiding every step towards a reward far more valuable than gems or jewelry. The opportunity for Mitzvot such as Shabbat, Kashrut and shemirat Halashon are constantly available to us for the taking. Sometimes, we are faced with dilemmas, and when we follow the Torah’s prescription, we are enabled to lead our best life.